Sunday, 25 July 2010

Book Review: No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnball

My Summary:

'He is not for thee Susannah."

"Don't cry, we won't be parted, I promise.' - Will

No Shame, No Fear is set in England 1662, just after the civil war and there are many disputes over religious faith and culture.
Susanna is a young Quaker girl who has left her home in a small countryside village to go to work as a servant in the town of Hemsbury after her father is in jail for his Quaker beliefs and the bailiffs have raided her home.  In the community, the Quakers are a feared, hated by some because of their different and simplistic way of thinking about their Christian faith
Meanwhile, seventeen year old Will has just finished his studies at Oxford and is returning home, where his father is trying to arrange a suitable apprenticeship for him in London using his wealth and influence.
By chance, the two meet and Will is intrigued by Susannah and her welcoming group of Quaker friends whose ways seem strange to him. As his curiosity grows, he spends more time with Susannah and a secret romance blossoms between them. Will, knows that his father, an Alderman would oppose to him mixing with a young Quaker girl and getting involved in the illegal Quaker meetings, as well as his sudden change in behaviour. With society, family and even the law against them, they must fight to what is most important to them and stay true to their love. Is it strong enough to overcome the many obstacles that stand between them?

My thoughts and review:

What I loved most about this book was the way that each chapter was told from an alternating view point so that you got to know each of the characters of Will and Susannah really well and gave me a deeper understanding of the rift between their social standing and what ill would be giving up to follow his heart for Susannah. The plain yet language was what made the book so beautiful and it included the Quaker 'thee' and 'though' at some times made the story seem very authentic.
I could definitely tell that the author mus have put a lot of research into writing the book, for I learnt a lot about the manners, dress, food, apprenticeships, households (such as laundering) prison systems and law of the time. The detail of the Quakers, who called themselves Friends was very fascinating and I loved reading about their story of faith though suffering and persecution from Parliament through the eyes of two young people in love. There is no need to worry about the theme of faith and religion making the writing seem 'preachy' for it is not like that at all.

Characterisation- I thought that the character of Susannah was right for the plot and the fact that she was a young Quaker. She was very innocent and has many questions about her faith but is strong inside and brave when it comes to the things that she cares about. However, although I liked her, I think that she could have been given more of a distinct personality.

Will is the character who undergoes the most change in the book after meeting Susannah and getting involved with the Quakers. I got the feeling that although it is hard for him to decide whether to defy his family and society to turn his back on everything he has ever known, he never really fitted into it that well in the first place. He has a lot of courage and is very caring but I must admit that pondering on it, some of the life changes that he chose to make and the changes in him were quite quick.

Anne Turnball definitely got me involved with with story without unrealistic excitement and twists happening in the story all the time but through compelling descriptions and human emotions and suffering.

No Shame, No Fear, had me rooting for the love of William and Susannah and sympathising with the Quakers and their battle with faith in a combination which kept me hooked.

Currently, I am reading the sequel to No Shame, No Fear, which is called Forged in the Fire- off to read it now!


  1. It sounds like a very interesting book. I might have to check it out!

  2. Yes, it was! I would definitely recommend it to you. Not many people have heard about it but as Adele Geras said in her Guardian review: 'It needs a trumpet blown for it!'
    If you do decide to read it, let me know what you think :)


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